They Said It: At The Open Championship - Page 3

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It's Been A Surreal Experience For McDowell Since His WIn At Pebble Beach
GRAEME McDOWELL


Q. You mentioned some of the attention that you're getting. Can you just describe some of the things that you've encountered. And is there anything that's stuck out to you in terms of something a fan has asked or a player has asked you about?

GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, the response I've had via email, voicemail, text, website, just all the forms of communications we have in this 21st century, just from all kinds of players, Frank Nobilo just asked for my number so he could pass it to Greg Norman so he could give me a shout. Stuff like that, it's just amazing, stuff I've had from legends of the past, current champions, all the players coming up to me from both sides of the Atlantic just really happy for me, just using words like "unbelievable" and "amazing", asking me has it sunk in yet, and it really hasn't. It's been a surreal few weeks. I still kind of really haven't come to terms with it, and I hope I never do. When you realise one of your dreams, I guess it's a pretty surreal feeling.

It's just been a great response from across the board, really. It's going to be tough to pick out letters and emails from people. Just like I say, just an Arnold Palmer, Peter Alliss, just legends of the game really, and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to do that and be able to enjoy my first major championship and everything that goes with it.

I think to win at Pebble Beach, such a special place, it's been a really cool experience so far.

Q. We've seen players win their first major and go on to great things, become a multiple major winner and seeing other players win their first major and it's had also a negative effect and they've fallen down the World Rankings. How do you achieve the first but guard against the second?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I mean, here in the short-term there's not much I can do about it except try and play my own game. How I deal with it in the long-term boils down to decisions that I make, schedule, just big decisions like that. I'm very aware of the pitfalls, complacency, expectation levels, really trying to change my game now that I'm a major champion -- there's all kinds of mistakes that guys have made in the past. I know plenty of the guys well enough, Ernie and Pádraig and guys like that to be able to seek them out here in the next few months to have some dinner with them and chats with them and understand how they have dealt with it in the past and really try and make sure that I surround myself -- I've got a great team of people working with me, and I believe they'll not let me make the mistakes that will sort of drag me down No. 2. I certainly hope I can take confidence and belief away from Pebble Beach. I'm a 30-year-old guy, 31 in a couple weeks' time, I feel like I have my best days ahead of me. So I'll be making sure I don't fall into any of the traps, like I said, and really try and speak to the right people and get some good advice and keep doing what I'm doing, really.

I feel like I've got some good processes and some good work ethics going on, and it's important that I do that. It's difficult to put Pebble Beach behind me, and I don't want to put it behind me because I'm enjoying every second of it and it's been an amazing experience. I've got to look forward to the rest of the season. I've got some big goals I want to achieve. Like I said, here in the short-term it's going to be difficult to put Pebble behind me. I'm here this week, I tried to deal with a lot of stuff last week and get that out of the way and I'm really trying to free my week up and play golf here this week.

How I'm going to deal with it? We'll see. I'm going to enjoy this week but I'll be trying my best not to make any mistakes for my future.


Q. For golf fans who may not be familiar with links golf, can you nominate a whole or maybe two that could bear some more explanation? For instance, they're seeing things on television, wondering why you're playing it this way, sort of a strange hole.


GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, if the wind direction stays the same as it was today, No. 12 is going to be a very interesting hole. It was into out the left today, and we actually had to hit our tee shots into the right rough there. The bunkers here at St. Andrews, they're not like normal bunkers on any other golf course because there are actually real penalties. You go to a resort-type golf course anywhere in the world, bunkers are probably more desirable than the rough for most top players. No. 12, 260 yards to carry the second set of cross bunkers, come through that left to right wind here and a seaside breeze. I played with Paul Casey and Oliver Wilson this morning, and we all laid it up in the right rough. It's going to look like a very bizarre play to people, but it's the only play. You're not going to lay up and give yourself 180 yards in impossible green to hit with a wedge, never mind a 5-iron. Holes like that are going to be interesting as far as guys making decisions.

Maybe take 16 as an example. Just because of the firmness of this golf course, again, you've got to take that first drop out of play and leave yourself like a 5-iron into the green, and I kind of see that shot as an extended pitch and run from about 200 yards where you're trying to fly the ball like 175, 180 and make the ball release up onto the green. Just because of the firmness of these putting surfaces you can't fly a ball on and control it the same way. The way these fairways are you really can't get the same amount of spin and flight control that you can maybe off of lush, zoysia type fairways where you can hit the high spinning ball. Guys will be playing the ball much more along the ground this week. You'll see a lot more of extended chip and run, but it's a low flighted ball from 200-yard pin where you're trying to fly it 175, 180 and let the ball skip up slopes and release. That type of shot is very interesting in links golf.

Q. Older players have been successful at the last couple of British Opens. Can you think of a reason why that might be? And is there anyone in the older set that you think this year might do well here?

GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, major championships require patience and discipline, and a golf course like Turnberry last year where Tom Watson, should have, could have won, hit a fantastic shot on the last, and I'm sure Cink was a great champion, but the fairy-tale story was for Tom to win, and we're all kind of disappointed to not see that happen.

Length is not an issue because of the firm and fast fairways. A guy sort of in his late 50s and 60s who's not as long as he used to but has the mental discipline and the patience to realise that you've got to plot your way around. Even if the wind was to drop here at St. Andrews and all of a sudden the golf course becomes sort of a presumed gift nearly, the pins are going to be tucked away and they're going to be tough to get at and you've got to position your ball well.

So short game, and like I say, patience and grit and determination and just having the sort of peace of mind to realise that par is a great score on most holes, and there's no doubt -- like I haven't really looked at the field this week, but I mean the likes of a Tom Watson could compete around here. There's no doubt about it. St. Andrews is about dodging the bunkers off the tee and just pace putting really, really well. That could sort of bring anyone into the equation. Obviously the weather is going to be a massive element this week, but the golf course, I think it blows the field wide open this week the way it's set up.

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